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Posts Tagged ‘pet fox’

snuggly clive

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clive being playful

So when we had Clive out today he urinated a few times outdoors, including up against a tree trunk of one the silver maples in front of the house.

I made dinner this evening, and we had a boarding client who was coming to pick up her dog. Jenna took the client dog out for one last good walk about an hour after the sun set.

She came running back in the house telling me that she could smell red fox urine very strongly, and after careful examination, we noticed red fox tracks coming from across the road into our front lawn.

Clive is never taken near the road. He attracts too much unwanted attention, and our local conservation officer doesn’t like getting calls about a fox he knows is perfectly permitted and licensed.  Plus, Clive could get spooked and pull his leash loose, and he would probably run into the road and be hit by a car.

So what happened was that a dog fox in the neighborhood caught wind of Clive’s markings around the silver maples.  Last summer, I smelled where a red fox had urinated on one of these trees, as did every single one of our dogs, so I knew they were in the area. But now that we have a tame young male fox, the local breeding male fox is less than impressed with the young upstart leaving those markings on turf.

Clive is attracting the attention of the neighbors. My guess is we’re going to see lots more of their sign and maybe catch a glimpse of them as the late winter red fox mating season winds up.

I doubt that any of the local reds are cross foxes. All the ones I’ve seen in Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania have been the normal phase reds. But the foxes don’t know what color they are. They just operate by their nose and their base instincts.

Clive can never go wild. He’s from a long line of fur farmed foxes, and if he were to be released, he’s so friendly with people that he’d probably be suspected of being rabid and killed on sight.

So here is another aspect of owning a tame fox. The local red foxes don’t really care that much for the tame ones, and virtually everyone in the continental US lives near red foxes. If you bring a tame one into your home, you will be upsetting the locals, and I don’t just mean your human neighbors either.

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Playful Clive

We had Clive out today for a bit of fun. These photos should give you an idea of what his general temperament is. He is a total clown.

clive loves his ball

clive pounce

clive pounce 3

cute clive

clive pounce 2

clive on the run

clive teddy bear

ciive sniffing

snowy boy

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Snowy face fox

Clive likes the snow!

snow face clive

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Just a fox on a lead in a snowy land.

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We have a fox

I’ve written many, many words about wild canids, but I’ve never lived with one.

Until now. Jenna asked me one morning if we could pick up a free fox that was being offered in Craig’s List.

And I didn’t say no…

So we got Clive, a cross phase red fox. His previous owners were feeding him cheap dog food and not the cat food he really needs to thrive. He also was being kept in a tiny dog crate. He now lives in a German shepherd-sized dog crate with lots of house time to run around.

I had no idea Ohio was so open to allowing people to keep pet foxes. You have to apply for a $25.00 permit through the Ohio DNR, and a conservation officer comes to your house and approves it. So Clive is fully legal through the state of Ohio. In Ohio, you can buy a fox from a breeder with your permit, but you cannot just catch little ones in the woods and try to make them pets.

Jenna and I have a lot of dog experience, but he’s still not fully domesticated. He likes to steal things and hide them, and if he decides an item is worth guarding from you, don’t try to take it. Also if you don’t keep his cage clean enough, it will smell like burning rubber. That’s what his glands smell like.

I wouldn’t recommend one of these to just anyone, but if you want something a little different, it’s worth looking into. 

Most states in the US are not as lax as Ohio when it comes to keeping foxes, so please consult your state’s wildlife agencies before trying to get one of your own.

This is the most interesting animal I’ve ever lived with. He wags his tail at you just like a dog, and he loves to have his ears rubbed. He gets those zoomie things that dogs get, which he does all over the house.

We don’t let him interact with the dogs, because he’s a bit stroppy, they are bit leery of him, and he’s pretty fragile. He’s really not much more than an Italian greyhound with lots of fluff.

He’s not a Belyaev domestic fox, but whoever bred him was definitely concerned with producing a fox that is fairly docile and friendly.

You may judge me for keeping such an animal, but I think we can provide him a far better home than just about anyone else who’d pick up a fox on Craig’s List.

I’ll be writing about him a lot more, and there will be Youtube video. I am looking into buying a gray fox from a breeder this next spring, which is sort of my dream animal.

So yes, we are crazy, Crazy to like foxes!

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There are two basic reasons:

The first is that fennec foxes don’t have the same musk glands as other vulpine foxes.

That’s actually quite a plus.  Other foxes– especially red foxes– are known for producing an odor that smells something like that of a skunk.

Fennecs don’t produce that odor.

The other is that fennecs live in packs.

They don’t live in packs to hunt larger prey, but their family groups have essentially the same dynamics as a wolf pack.

A wolf pack is based upon a mated pair that have an intense pair bond, and virtually all the other animals in the pack are their grown offspring, which stay behind to take care of their younger brothers and sisters.

This same dynamic exists with fennec foxes.

With more than two adults to forage over the desert, the young fennec kits get more attention and more food than they would get if only their mother and father were caring for them.

Humans have already domesticated one dog species that has this particularly social arrangement.

It’s actually been suggested that reason why humans domesticated wolves so easily is that both humans and wolves have similar social arrangements. Both wolves and humans may have recognized as similarity in this regard, and the two species were able to form very close relationships.

Maybe something similar could happen with fennecs.

It’s certainly true that most fennecs in captivity today are derived from ancestors that were dug out of dens.

In North Africa, people have kept pet fennecs for centuries, but it’s been only in the past few decades that anyone thought of keeping them in the West.

They are still wild animals. Not all individuals have docile temperaments, even when bottle-raised.

But it seems to me that as these animals become a bit more established in the pet trade, there will be attempts to breed them with more docile temperaments.

Although we have domesticated populations of red and arctic fox, these animals are not widely available on the pet market (for the reasons I mentioned earlier).

But fennecs could become the second canid species to become established as a domestic animals.

All it will take is a large enough gene pool of captive individuals and a concerted effort to selectively breed them to be suitable pets.

This may sound a bit far-fetched, but when I was a child, it was impossible to buy golden hamsters– even those with fancy colorations and coat lengths– that were naturally disposed to be tame.

All of the hamsters I owned bit me at least once, and most bit at least once a month.

Today, you can go to a pet store and buy hamsters that have been selected for “low reactivity.”

Hamsters have been bred away from the grumpy little things that they are in the wild.

And what’s more, pet golden hamsters derive from only a single litter that was captured near Aleppo, Syria, in 1930.

They are perhaps the most inbred of all domestic animals, but even though they are inbred, they have been able to produce just enough genetic variation to produce unique coat lengths and colors and just enough variation in temperament to produce very gentle strains.

Captive fennec foxes have a broader genetic base than golden hamsters, so it may be possible to begin another canid domestication process.

We’ve done it before.

We can do it again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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